2014 Varner "Bee Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Clearly the star of the show, the 2014 Chardonnay Bee Block Spring Ridge Vineyard is the most complete, layered and persistent white in the lineup. Possessing medium to full-bodied richness, solid mid-palate depth and fabulous precision and focus, with classy notes of sauteed apples, crushed rocks, spice and flowers, it opens up beautifully with time in the glass and is a killer white that readers need to seek out. I like it today, but I've no doubt this beauty will keep for a decade or more. The big change at this reference point estate is the splitting of the partnership between the Varner and Neely families, and the Varner brothers will no longer have access to the Spring Ridge Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where they've worked since the early 2000s. Going forward, this team will focus on their contracts in Santa Barbara County, where they've also worked for the past three years. Few winemakers do Chardonnay and Pinot Noir better than brothers Jim and Bob Varner, and I've no doubt this estate will continue to be one of the stars of the Central Coast. (JD)
The 2014 Chardonnay Bee Block is the standout in this lineup of Chardonnays from Bob and Jim Varner. Wonderfully complete and layered, the 2014 is all about balance, harmony and proportion. Everything is in the right place. The combination of phenolic intensity and creaminess is deftly balanced in a Chardonnay endowed with both tension and enough mid-palate intensity to give the wine its sense of openness. (AG)
A little cooler than the Home Block. Solid stuff with good extract. Sweet start and proper beginning, middle and end to this wine. Very different from the Santa Barbara style. More ageable? Some spiciness.
At K&L, we are always HUGE fans of the Varner brothers' wines. These are carefully crafted, terroir-driven Chardonnays that drink well on release and also age very well. This bottling hails from the Bee Block at the Varners' Spring Ridge Vineyard, which features 24-year-old vines planted to a northeast-facing slope. The vines are dry-farmed and worked by hand with no insecticides. The wine is fermented on indigenous yeast and aged in 25% new, French (Bertranges & Troncais) oak.